Atherosclerosis in Waterfowl and Bonobos

Summary Information
Diseases / List of Miscellaneous / Metabolic / Multifactorial Diseases / Disease summary
Alternative Names --
Disease Agents Degeneration - causal agents unclear.
  • Characterised by extensive accumulation of lipid, fibrous tissue and calcium deposits in the walls of blood vessels. This eventually leads to narrowing of the lumen of the vessel. (B666.7.w7)
Infectious Agent(s) --
Non-infectious Agent(s) --
Physical Agent(s)
General Description
In Waterfowl
  • Degenerative condition of the arteries, found at post mortem examination.

Gross pathology:

  • Dorsal aorta and other large arteries - gross thickening of vessels. Fatty deposits, varying from small foci to large yellow plaques and calcification of arterial walls.


  • Dorsal aorta and other large arteries - intima invaded by lipid, calcification, appearance of foam cells.

(J3.88.w1, B9.6.w1).

In Bonobos
  • Aortic atherosclerosis was noted at necropsy in an elderly female bonobo at Yerkes. (J23.20.w2)
  • Atheromatous plaques were noted in the aorta and in the great vessels and cerebral arteries of a bonobo which died suddenly due to a dissecting aneurysm (see: Aortic Aneurism in Bonobos). (B664.9.w9)
Further Information
In Waterfowl
  • Role in mortality unclear, but may be a contributory factor and perhaps a major factor on some occasions.
  • Occurrence increases with age. Seen in older birds.
  • Captive waterfowl appear more prone to developing atherosclerosis than are most other bird groups.
  • Rare in free-living waterfowl.
  • May be related to incorrect feeding and social stresses.

(J3.88.w1, J7.30.w2, J7.30.w4, B18).

In Bonobos
  • Atherosclerosis in the great apes generally is an incidental finding, but has been seen in apes with coronary artery disease. (B665.53.w53)
  • It has been suggested that a diet closer to the natural diet may reduce all types of cardiac disease in great apes. (B22.31.w31c)
Techniques linked to this disease
WaterfowlINDEXDisInvTrCntr.gif (2325 bytes)
Host taxa groups /species
Disease has been reported in either the wild or in captivity in the following WATERFOWL Species: [N.B. Miscellaneous / Traumatic Diseases tend to be under-reported and the majority are likely to affect all waterfowl species, given exposure to the related disease agents/factors.]
  • Magpie goose Anseranas semipalmata, Eyton's whistling-duck Dendrocygna eytoni, fulvous whistling-duck Dendrocygna bicolor, white-faced whistling-duck Dendrocygna viduata, Javan whistling-duck Dendrocygna javanica, red-billed (black-bellied) whistling-duck Dendrocygna autumnalis, Cuban whistling-duck Dendrocygna arborea, Coscoroba swan Coscoroba coscoroba, Mute swan Cygnus olor, Black-necked swan Cygnus melanocoryphus Whooper swan Cygnus cygnus, Trumpeter swan Cygnus buccinator, Whistling swan Cygnus columbianus, Swan goose Anser cygnoides, Greylag goose Anser anser, Greater white-fronted goose Anser albifrons, Lesser white-fronted goose Anser erythropus, Bean goose Anser fabalis, Snow goose Anser caerulescens, Ross's goose Anser rossii, Emperor goose Anser canagicus, Hawaiian goose Branta sandvicensis Canada goose Branta canadensis, Barnacle goose Branta leucopsis, Red-breasted goose Branta ruficollis, Brent goose Branta bernicla, Cereopsis goose Cereopsis novaehollandiae, Ruddy-headed sheldgoose Chloephaga rubidiceps, Andean goose Chloephaga melanoptera, Magellan goose Chloephaga picta , Crested duck Lophonetta specularioides, Steamer duck Tachyeres brachypterus, Orinoco goose Neochen jubatus, Salvadori's teal Salvadorina waigiuensis, African black duck Anas sparsa, Bronze-winged duck Anas specularis, Mallard Anas platyrhynchos, Spot-billed duck Anas poecilorhyncha, Philippine duck Anas luzonica, Yellow-billed duck Anas undulata, Sunda teal Anas gibberifrons, Baikal teal Anas formosa, Yellow-billed pintail Anas georgica, Falcated duck Anas falcata, Marbled teal Anas angusirostris, Northern pintail Anas acuta, Silver teal Anas versicolor, White-cheeked pintail Anas bahamensis, Cape teal Anas capensis, Cinnamon teal Anas cyanoptera, Ringed teal Anas leucophrys, King eider Somateria spectabilis, Common eider Somateria mollissima, Steller's eider Polysticta stelleri, Red-crested pochard Netta rufina, European pochard Aythya ferina, Redhead Aythya americana Greater scaup Aythya marila, Comb duck Sarkidiornis melanotos, Muscovy duck Cairina moschata, Hartlaub's duck Pteronetta hartlaubi, Brazilian teal Amazonetta braziliensis, Maned duck Chenonetta jubata, Mandarin duck Aix galericulata, Cotton pygmy-goose Nettapus coromandelianus, Spur-winged goose Plectropterus gambensis, Common scoter Melanitta nigra, Harlequin duck Histrionicus histrionicus, Common goldeneye Bucephala clangula, Barrow's goldeneye Bucephala islandica Red-breasted merganser Mergus serrator,
    White-headed duck Oxyura leucocephalus, White-backed duck Thalassornis leuconotus in a collection in the UK (J3.88.w1).
  • European eider Somateria mollissima, king eider Somateria spectabilis, common (European) goldeneye Bucephala clangula in a collection in the UK (J7.30.w2).
  • Orinoco goose Neochen jubata and steamer duck Tachyeres spp. in a collection in the UK (J7.30.w4).
  • Coscoroba swan Coscoroba coscoroba, Mute swan Cygnus olor, Black-necked swan Cygnus melanocoryphus Black swan Cygnus atratus, whooper swan Cygnus cygnus, Trumpeter swan Cygnus buccinator, Tundra swan Cygnus columbianus (B9.6.w1).
Disease has been reported in free-ranging populations of the following WATERFOWL Species: Mute swans Cygnus olor (minor lesions) in the UK (B9.6.w1)

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